Diarrhoea – a condition that is characterised by loose or watery stools – is common in children. If your toddler is otherwise healthy and you give him plenty of fluids, the diarrhoea will clear up in a few days. Viral infections are the most common cause of diarrhoea in toddlers. According to WebMD diarrhoea is often accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and dehydration. During this period, you must keep your toddler well hydrated as diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, which can even result in serious health issues.
Causes of diarrhoea in toddlers
In most cases, diarrhoea in toddlers is due to viral or bacterial infection in the food that your toddler ate. Apart from passing watery stools, your toddler may suffer from stomach pain, cramps, fever, and loss of appetite. A few causes include:
• Viral infection
Different types of viruses can cause diarrhoea in toddlers such as rotavirus, norovirus and astrovirus.
• Bacterial infection
Bacterial food poisoning is another cause of toddler diarrhoea. If your toddler suffers from bacterial infection, he may have severe diarrhoea along with cramps, blood in the stool, and fever.
Parasitic infections can also cause diarrhoea. If your child has diarrhoea from this cause, he may show symptoms like watery diarrhoea, bloating, gas, nausea and cramps.
Although diarrhoea in toddlers is rarely serious when treated in a proper and correct manner, there is always the risk of dehydration. To prevent this, you should ensure your toddler takes water at regular intervals. According to Parents, the Institute of Medicine’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water states that children aged 1-3 years need 1.3 litres of water per day. Sugary drinks are an absolute no-no and they will only worsen the diarrhoea.
In addition, you can offer your toddler an oral rehydration solution (ORS) because drinking water alone won’t provide the necessary sodium, potassium, and other nutrients to rehydrate young children. Some symptoms of dehydration include: passing little urine, sunken eyes, weakness, a dry mouth, a dry tongue and lips, drowsiness, and cold hands and feet.
In case of severe diarrhoea – when your toddler is unable to keep the liquids down and passes stool frequently, you can visit the doctor.
Note: Do not give your toddler any anti-diarrhoea medicines without consulting a doctor. These medicines can prove dangerous.
Ways to handle diarrhoea in toddlers
The immunity system of a toddler is still developing and delicate. During diarrhoea, try to feed him foods that are bland and not spicy or fried. Fruits and vegetables should normally be given only after a period of 48 hours from the first instance of diarrhoea. If he is refusing to eat, do not panic. Make sure he is hydrated for the time being. His appetite will return. Some useful ways to handle diarrhoea in toddlers include:
• Hydration is key
One major complication of diarrhoea is dehydration. If you toddler has diarrhoea, give him water, clear broth, and juice that has less sugar in it. Electrolyte drinks can be given to your toddler to replenish the electrolytes lost due to diarrhoea.
• Add more fat and fiber to the diet
Some toddlers may become affected by toddler’s diarrhoea, which is chronic. To counter this, simply increase the amount of fat and fiber in their diet. A few examples of such foods are cereals, beans, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
• Feed your toddler potatoes
The humble potato is an effective food that can combat diarrhoea provided you serve it in a plain or boiled form. Potato helps to restore lost nutrients in toddlers.
• Make him eat bananas
Banana is loaded with nutrients and is considered an ideal food for toddlers, who love it for its sweet taste. It is also a rich source of zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin A. Your toddler can have bananas, in limited quantities, while recovering from diarrhoea as it helps replace the lost electrolytes.
Note: Unripe bananas can cause constipation in toddlers, so avoid.
Ginger is not only beneficial for overall digestive health but a good option to treat diarrhoea. Mix one teaspoon of dried ginger powder with cinnamon powder, cumin powder, and honey. Feed this mixture to your toddler two to three times a day when he has diarrhoea.
• White rice
Did you know that white rice is effective in treating diarrhoea in toddlers? The content of starch is very high in white rice, which makes it easy to digest. Feed your toddler small scoops of plain white rice but avoid spices or sauces.
We have given you a list of things to do handle diarrhea in toddlers. But, what about preschoolers? The ClipBook below looks at ways to handle diarrhea in preschoolers.